Living in harmony

If you took a bit of time choosing who to share with you will have a much greater chance of having a happy household.

The Ground Rules

You may think that rules are the last thing you need after finally breaking free from the family home or the halls of residence but if you don’t do it at the start of the tenancy you will wish that you had. There’s no need to go over the top but you just can’t rely on people’s considerate natures to keep a household running smoothly. Even the most considerate person in the world will get fed up of being put upon. The rules should be written by the group at the start of the tenancy and prominently displayed within the house. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Make sure that everybody is crystal clear about the terms of the tenancy i.e. their share of the rent, the date that it is due, how it is to be paid and the length of the tenancy.
  • Set up individual standing orders to pay the rent directly into your Landlord’s or Letting Agent’s bank account. This way there will be no arguments between housemates when one pays the rent and has to get it back off the others.
  • You need to decide what type of a household you are going to be. Are you going to live independently or more as a group? Are you going to eat together in the evening and make use of any communal living room? These decisions will influence how stringent the rules need to be.
  • Form a kitty to pay for the essentials. These include bills, cleaning supplies, toilet rolls and possibly the basic foods such as tea, coffee milk, sugar etc. If you are in touch with the previous tenants ask them what they paid.  

Deliberately overestimate what will be required as the bills will go up over the winter. If there’s anything left at the end of the year you can put it towards a farewell dinner.

  • Make sure that all the bills are in joint names. This should avoid one person being chased for payment at the end of your tenancy and possibly incurring a poor credit score.
  • If there are four or five of you think about employing a cleaner to come for a couple of hours twice a week to do the communal areas. This is likely to cost about £25 a week or £5 each which could be a small price to avoid arguments. It is a logic defying fact that everbody in a shared house thinks that they do more cleaning than everyone else. The cleaner should not do the washing up.
  • Try and eat together as a group as much as possible. It will help the members of the household to bond and is an opportunity to air grievances before they fester. It is also much cheaper than cooking for one. Ideally each member of the household should have a particular meal that they can do well (beans on toast don’t count).
  • Make it a rule that if one of the housemates has a guest staying for two or more consecutive nights they must make contribution towards the kitty.
  • Try and get everyone to agree that parties or the playing of loud music should only to take place at week-ends. Raise your speakers off the ground and point them away from the neighbouring room.
  • Decide at the start of the tenancy if you are going to allow smoking in the house. If not display a couple of non-smoking signs so that your guests are aware.


Cartoons used in this article are the Copyright of Gerard Whyman. Gerald Whyman is a cartoonist and illustrator

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